how star wars conquered the universeI would describe myself as, at best, a casual fan of the Star Wars universe. I’ve seen the original trilogy a couple of times and I fondly remember going to each of the prequel movies with my family when I was a kid, but that’s about as far as my familiarity with the franchise actually goes. I do, however, love fan culture and learning more about the things that other people can become obsessed about.

Chris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe starts with almost that very question: How did a space fantasy become one of the most ubiquitous and lucrative franchises of all time? Or, put another way, how has Star Wars become so ingrained in our collective memory that even people who have never seen the original films know who Yoda is or the big reveal that Darth Vader really is Luke’s father?

While I’m not sure that the book definitely answers that question, it’s an absolutely wonderful, meandering, encompassing, engaging look at the history of Star Wars and the many ways that fans and creators have latched on to this film and made it’s stories and characters their own.

Quite a few of the reviews I skimmed on Goodreads critiqued the book for being disorganized. And while I get where that’s coming from, I happened to love the way the book spun off in different directions. This book is not a straight history of the franchise, starting with a young George Lucas and ending with speculation about the upcoming Episode VII film. Instead, that timeline provides a backbone for Taylor to spin off other stories about the fans who make up a real-life drone army, build their own droids and believe in Jedism as it’s own religion.

I loved that because, to be honest, George Lucas is not that interesting. Although the story of Star Wars is his, the franchise is a cultural touchstone because of the people who love it so much. And, as Taylor points out, the most successful of the films are those where Lucas invited in collaborators and co-writers to help bring in levity and keep the stories from spinning out of control.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is really just an engaging, fun, interesting book. There is a ton of gossip about the movies and what life was like behind-the-scenes, as well as astute commentary on where some of those films went wrong. And it’s a thoughtful portrait of George Lucas that doesn’t tear him down or raise him up unfairly in his position as creator of the franchise. I just adored this book and plan on pushing it on anyone who expresses even a passing interest in Star Wars.

Disclosure: I picked up a copy of this book at Book Expo America. 



currently september 29 2014

Time and Place | I’m writing this at about 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, but it’s scheduled to go up Monday morning. I’m interpreting “currently” a little lose this week.

Eating and Drinking | After a month of super clean eating (thanks, Whole30) I went a little bit off the rails this week, first with pizza for lunch with my coworkers and then for a night out with my high school girlfriends that started with pink drinks and went from there. I definitely noticed that these foods weren’t making me feel good, so I’m refocusing on a mostly Whole30 diet this week.

Reading | I had a quiet reading week, but it was spent with two excellent books so I’m not complaining. I’m really close to finishing On Immunity by Eula Biss (Sept. 30 from Graywolf Press), a look a fear, vaccinations and motherhood, and not-at-all close to finishing The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. My library copy is due back soon, so I splurged on the hardcover at Barnes and Noble. New books!

Watching | I went down a rabbit hole with the sixth season of Castle and loved every minute of it. The theme song has been playing in my head almost constantly.

Listening | Since I had long-ish drives to and from the Twin Cities this weekend, I dove into a new audio book, The News: A User’s Manual by Alain De Botton.

Making | I picked up a cross stitch project I’d abandoned for awhile and made some progress. I’m considering starting a ripple afghan with some of my loose yarn.

Blogging | It was a good week on the blog! I spent some time last Sunday night getting my categories cleaned up and managed to share two posts this week: some books in my mailbox this month and my experience with the Whole30 program.

Contemplating | In the spirit of minimalism and curating and simplifying, I’m really curious about the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I love this one from Caroline at Un-Fancy, and think her steps to get started sound really simple.

Surprising | I stopped by our library book sale this week — they leave the books out for a month after the sale for people to pick through — and found the most amazing little book, Keys to Happiness: A Reader’s Digest Guide to Successful Living. This 1955 guide has essays like “Turn Your Sickness into an Asset” and “Danger — Gossips at Work” — amazing.

Loving | I’m in love with spending time with old friends.

Anticipating | The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy, but then I think I will have three weekends at home in a row. And one of those weekends is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon!


My Experience with the Whole30 Program

September 25, 2014 Musings

One of the things that has stuck with me from Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project is the idea of moderators versus abstainers. Rubin posits that some people are happiest when they moderate their behavior by allowing small indulgences every once in awhile. Other people, however, are happier when they abstain entirely from certain things […]

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In My Mailbox: September 2014

September 23, 2014 Book List

I really love to hear when people get new books, so I decided I’m going to try to do more posts sharing some of the books that arrive at my house — here’s some of what I found in my mailbox in September. The News Sorority by Sheila Weller (Sept. 30 from Penguin Press) – […]

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Currently | Being a Homebody

September 21, 2014 Currently

Time and Place | 8 a.m. at my desk, enjoying an obligation-free weekend at home. Eating and Drinking |  Black tea, with plans to make scrambled eggs and sausage in a little bit. Reading | I finished two books this week! The first book was a memoir, Without You There Is No Us by Suki Kim (Oct. 14 from Crown), […]

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Reviewletts: ‘The High Divide’ and ‘Broken Monsters’

September 19, 2014 Book Review

Today I am going to share some thoughts on two books that pushed me out of my reading comfort zone in two entirely different directions. The High Divide, a historical novel about the great American west, let me explore the history of the region that I call home. Broken Monsters, a contemporary murder mystery, played around with […]

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True Tales of Murder and Madness for Every Reader

September 17, 2014 News and Notes

This post originally appeared on Book Riot.  I’m already on the record over over at Book Riot as being a fan of the subtitle – the longer and more absurd the better. Two words that I cannot resist in a subtitle are “murder” and “madness,” especially when they’re used together. Usually you find “murder” and “madness” […]

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Currently | Mormons and Football, Monsters and Flowers

September 14, 2014 Currently

Time and Place // 8:25 a.m. at my desk working on my laptop, since I still haven’t managed to get a new wireless card for my desktop computer. #procrastinator Eating and Drinking // I’ve got my usual Whole30 (day 22!) breakfast again this morning: three fried eggs, an apple, Trader Joe’s almond butter, and some cranberry […]

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What Margaret Atwood’s ‘Stone Mattress’ Showed Me About Short Stories

September 10, 2014 Book Review

Until I read Margaret Atwood’s newest short story collection, Stone Mattress, I didn’t think that I was a reader who could love short stories. (This, despite being a fan of B.J. Novak’s collection, One More Thing. I am a slow learner) While I adore reading novels built as a collection of interconnected short stories like Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists or […]

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Four Factors in a Fantastically Terrible Reading Slump

September 5, 2014 Musings

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a wicked reading and blogging slump. It started at the beginning of August, held on through the entire month, and doesn’t seem to be letting up now that September has arrived. It’s been rough. Although I hate being in slumps like these, I don’t let myself feel bad […]

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